The first was on my way to the conference. Across the aisle from me sat a mother and her surfer dude teenaged son. He was polite, respectful, handsome – he pretty much had all the qualities I hope my kids have as teenagers. He also happened to be living with Down Syndrome. At one point he was making a few noises. I didn’t take much notice because I’m surrounded by noisy people all the time. Then, from somewhere nearby a random passenger let out the loudest, rudest SHUSH I’ve ever heard. I was angry and determined to find the culprit. I wanted to give the SHUSHER a piece of my mind. All my investigations were pointless – the SHUSHER would not come forward and admit to the SHUSHING.
On the way home came Nosey Parker incident #2. A young dad was sitting behind me and having a cell phone conversation with the mother of his baby. They were discussing her plans for the next day. It sounded like she had a fun event to attend with a group of friends. The dad expressed a bit of concern about taking care of the baby because he was exhausted from his work travels. He did the right thing – told her her to carry on with her plans but that he would find a babysitter for a couple of hours to get some rest before enjoying the rest of the day with his kid. Their phone call ended and a few quick calls to babysitters from the tarmac were made and he had it all sorted out. Happily, he called his baby mama back and explained that all was organized and that he was thrilled that she would have a well deserved day out with her friends. She must have announced that she decided to cancel the plans because he spent the next few minutes saying things like “but you deserve to go out” and “it’s not a hassle at all, I’m looking forward to having the day with my daughter”. Despite begging her to go, she could not be convinced. When he got off the phone, I heard a huge sigh of defeat and frustration.
Clearly, I know nothing about them, their relationship or how they share parental responsibilities. However, I couldn’t stop myself from turning around, admitting to eavesdropping and congratulating him on trying so hard to make it work – for wanting his partner to have a day out with her friends. Sure, I risked having him tell me to mind my own business but it was worth it when I looked at his exhausted big brown eyes and heard his whisper: “Thank you so much”.
It’s tough to know when to inject ourselves into a conversation or situation that we’re not directly involved in. For me, often my gut responds before my brain has the chance to make a decision. The greatest risk for the Nosey Parker is humiliation. For those of us who have experienced enough of that already, it’s not a risk that gets a whole lot of consideration.